A controversial proposal to build an aerial tram and entertainment district at the Grand Canyon has met with an overwhelming defeat in the Navajo Nation Council.
On a 16 to 2 vote that body said it would not give its support to what is being called the Grand Canyon Escalade.
Because the project is slated to go up partly on Navajo land, the vote means it may have to be reconfigured at another site.
The negative vote also lands an exacting economic cost to the project, denying it the $65 million the Navajo Nation would have committed for the development of road, water, and power line infrastructure.
As proposed, the Grand Canyon Escalade would see the construction of a 1.4-mile gondola taking riders on a 3,200-foot plunge from the eastern edge of the canyon to down to the Colorado River.
The entertainment district portion of the project envisioned the construction of a cultural center and several hotels and restaurants.
Altogether the Grand Canyon Escalade, encompassing 420 acres, would have cost an estimated $1 billion to build.
The vote of the council, meeting in special session, came after two hours of debate.
While members of that body had expressed concerns regarding the environmental impact of the projects, others criticized a provision of the master agreement giving to the Scottsdale-based developer Confluence Partners a binding license to operate the project.
One council delegate described that portion of the agreement as “one-sided.”
Confluence Partners has not yet made an official response to the council decision.
By Garry Boulard
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